Getting Back In The Writing Grove

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Aside from not reading last year, my writing sadly went to the side as well. Although I did manage to write about 10k during Nanowrimo, so the year wasn’t a total waste.

I feel sad when I think about the writing I could have done over the last year. How lack I have been. My wedding planning really did consume me, so it isn’t like I was slacking off totally.

It is a new year and a fresh start. I have gotten back to my book pile, and now it’s time to get back into the word mines, too.

Last night was our first writer’s group meeting of the year. I love my group. I always find inspiration or am given a kick in the butt to get going.

I have two projects I want to work on this year at the very least. One will probably be a short story in a series I write. (You can check it out along with other great authors and stories over here)  I also have an idea for a genre I have yet to write. I have no idea yet if it will be a short story or novel yet. Time will tell.

My problem right now is getting back to the groove. But thanks to one of my friends, I have a plan now. I tend to put too much pressure on myself which is a big way of setting myself up for failure.

I am going to start off by writing for fifteen minutes a day. Fifteen minutes is a small chunk of time, and it will help getting the wheels greased. If (and when!) I go over the time limit, bonus! I also need to make notes and brainstorm but of coarse that won’t come from my writing time.

So, if you are having a hard time writing, try to write for a short time each day. Don’t stress or put pressure on yourself. Writing should be fun, not a chore.

What are some things you have done to get back into writing?

Now if you will excuse me, I have an opening scene to work on. 😉

 

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When Your Novel Isn’t Going According to Plan

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When we sit and jot down notes about our novels or sit down and plan them at some point we generally get a feel for what we hope/want/think will happen.

Sometimes when the day comes to actually sit and write it, everything is going fine and then suddenly-BAM! All of a sudden there’s things happening that you didn’t expect. Or the general feel for your novel has changed. And sometime those characters sound wimpy when they are supposed to be strong. Or sound like a cardboard cut out, when, in your head you SWORE they had a personality.

Right now I am taking part in NaNoWriMo. I decided to do something fun. Something for me. I wanted to get creative and have a world where I could have a free for all.

After a talk with a friend, I decided to write a twist to a classic fairy tale. During the creative process I decided it would be a dark fairy tale. I decided that there would be other fairy tale characters after all. I made my map and figure out what magic and creatures would potentially be in my story.

On day six of NaNo, my dark fairy tale isn’t that dark. It is way more on the…romantic end that I wanted it to be. And my heroine isn’t as…kick ass as I wanted her to be. My villain is more like a cardboard cut out then a person.

So what do you do when things aren’t as you’d wanted?

Roll with it. This is a first draft. You won’t finish a first draft if you keep going back to change it, edit it, alter it in some manner. Take some notes and keep on going. I will work on making my heroine more kick ass, so now that will be part of her character development in the novel. As for making it dark, I will keep it in my mind as I write and when edits come, I will change what I have written to suit the rest of the novel. As for my villain, well, she needs improving. At least I know that.

Even when your character does something unexpected, roll with it. The characters are telling this after all, not you. (This is where Mr.C would look at me funny.) I have written novels where my basic outline got thrown out half way through writing. They just weren’t relevant anymore.

So, don’t get too upset. Don’t get mad or frustrated. Words can be erased or deleted. Have fun and roll with the punches. 🙂

My Top 3 Tips For Surviving NaNoWriMo

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In just a few more days writers around the world will take to their laptops, tablets and notebooks and begin the adventure that is NaNoWriMo.

While NaNoWriMo is a month full of writing, cramped fingers, coffee and meet ups, it is a long, stressful month. And sometimes we need to remind ourselves to trudge on.

Here’s how I plan to survive November.

Take a breather. As important as it is to crank out that 50k, it is just as important to take time here and there to take a deep breath. Ahead of schedule? Go for a walk or spend the evening watching a movie. Behind and stressing? Take a short walk or make a coffee run to your fave cafe.

Reward yourself. Don’t reward yourself for every little thing, but do set some sort of reward system. Finish 500 words? Grab a piece of candy! Make the word count for the day? Go play Candy Crush. It’s the little things that help.

Get out. If you are able to get to write ins and Nano meet ups, go! They are fun and you get to chat to fellow writers who know all about the struggle. If you have a writers group, make sure you meet up for inspiration and motivation. Nobody around? Get online and find a writers group or hit the Nano forums.

What are your tips for surviving the month? 🙂

National Novel Writing Month – 5 Tips for NaNoWriMo from Stephanie Perkins, Writer Extraordinaire

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I really needed to read this today. It came in at the perfect time. Every year during Nano, I get to a point where I either give up, or I fight the urge to do so. This morning I was having a ‘fuck it!’ moment, deciding to give up and finish it in the new year, when the craziness of the holidays are over. But no, I won’t give up. Even if I don’t make it to 50k, I won’t throw in the towel now. There’s been too much poured into this already. So, if you are having the kind of day I had with my novel, read this. It might just give you the push to keep that sucker going!

 

National Novel Writing Month – 5 Tips for NaNoWriMo from Stephanie Perkins, Writer Extraordinaire.

What NaNoWriMo Has Taught Me

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October isn’t going exactly as planned, but I must say I can’t complain about how it is going. Tomorrow the newest season of “The Walking Dead” begins. Like many TWD fans, I have been counting down since last season 😉 Who else is ready to see how the hell Rick and the gang are going to get out of their current situation?

Another countdown I have on the go is NaNoWriMo, which starts in just 21 days! Today might be a beautiful and sunny day, but I will be spending a few hours of it (I hope) planning my novel and getting myself geared up for the month of insanity.

This is my seventh year participating in the writing challenge. My first year, was insane. I wrote 25k words in just a few days. I was full of excitement, energy, and really pushed myself. The rest of the month slowed down but I got my 50k, and I got to write ‘The End’. My brain felt pretty empty by the time December 1st rolled around, and I spent the following year replenishing my words. In the years that have followed, I ‘won’ several times and failed several times. But the way I look at it, at least I tried and getting 25k written is better then a big fat zero.

My plan for this year is to write about 10k the first weekend. I like to get a bit of a cushion underneath me. That way if there is a day where I am sick or life really gets in my way, I won’t panic about not making my word count. The first year I failed was because I got very behind, couldn’t catch up, and got frustrated. And having a plan in advance should help me stay on top of things. (Year three I learned I am NOT a ‘pantser’-someone who writes by the seat of their pants; having little idea of what they are going to write.) But on the other hand, I’m not a 100% planner. If I do that I find I grow bored and won’t want to write my story. One of the joys of NaNo, is that it has taught me a lot about writing over the years.

Here’s a few things I have learned  in the last few years. Maybe something here will help you too.

1- Index Cards. These beauties is what always help me get to my goal. I will be opening a crisp new pack today. I use these for outlining my novel. I take a card, and write a few words about the opening scene. Then I take another card, and write an event. After writing five to ten, I lay them out, and see what order I want them in.  I start filling  in the gaps, adding new scenes, events, and characters. When I finish, I stack them and keep them together with a large paper clip. I will look them over during the next few weeks, adding cards or even removing them. I don’t outline the entire novel, but the basic outline and important things I want to remember. It helps for when you get stuck and to help keep you on track.

2-Have a bible. No, I’m not talking about the religious type. I mean a notebook you can keep on you at all times. In it, have character sketches, story notes, and anything else important you your story. If you happen to be out and have an idea, scribble it in for later. If you are at home (or where ever you happen to be writing your novel), having it at hand helps when you forget the smaller details, like what kind of car your hero drives or what color eyes your heroine has. In my book I have character notes and sketches, pictures (of what they look like, important things in their life), and since several of them are vampires, I have vampire lore and mythology that I have created for my world.

3-Shutting up that inner critic. For years every time I wrote something, getting to the finish line was long and tedious work. I was constantly stopping and editing what I had written. My inner critic loved to tell me just how shitty my stories and ideas were, and I listened to him a bit too much during the first draft. Nano taught me how to turn that part off. In order to get to the 50,000 word mark, you (well, at least I don’t) have time to stop and nit pick with the story. The idea of this is to finish a first draft, and to show you that it doesn’t have to take ten years to write a novel. Now when I am writing something, for Nano or otherwise, I don’t have that pesty bastard ruining my momentum. There will be many writers next month thinking “This is total shit but keep going!”

4-Laying out the ground rules to family. I have already told my fiance that I am not to be disturbed unless it is an absolute emergency. Well, when I’m in my office that is. And my friends already know that come November, I am essentially M.I.A. I’ll be devoting my free time to writing. Because of this, when ever I have to do edits on a story that is getting published, writing for the fun of it, etc…I get left alone. They know and respect how much it means to me and that sometimes I just need to get shit done. Of coarse, there will be some people in your life that won’t understand, but luckily for me everyone in my life is used to me saying “Sorry, I can’t go out. I’m writing.”

5-BACK UP YOUR WORK. This is the most important thing I can think of, and I like reminding writers (both the newbies and veterans) because it is something that people tend to forget.  I know a few people who learned the hard way how important it is to back up their novel. I save mine onto two memory sticks. Everyone has their own methods, but for the love of all that is holy, save that sucker in at least one other location aside from your desktop.

Every writer is different, and these things are what works for me. What do you do in prep for Nano? What are the things you have learned from doing it?